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updated: 2/29/2012 10:22 PM

Grayslake schools consultant contract under fire

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  • Michael Linder

      Michael Linder

  • Video: Controversial vote for deal

 
 

Former Grayslake Elementary District 46 board member Michael Linder's $75,000 consulting contract is eligible to be voided because of the irregular way it gained approval at a public meeting in 2011, according to a school attorney.

At a meeting on Feb. 16, 2011, the school board voted 4-2 in favor of hiring Linder for what spectators likely perceived as a one-year deal. While meeting minutes and a board motion didn't indicate the contract's length, it came up in discussion.

"What do we want from this one-year contract?" board member Keith Surroz said before Linder was hired.

Responding to board member Michael Carbone, Superintendent Ellen Correll said Linder would be on a "yearly" contract. She was hooked up via speakerphone for the meeting because she was out of town on a family emergency.

But Linder inked a two-year contract as a facilities engineering consultant for $75,000 annually on March 21, 2011. Former board President Mary Garcia signed off on the deal three days later.

Linder's contract became fodder for Wednesday night's special meeting after board member Shannon Smigielski said she discovered it was for two years -- not one. She said she's been wondering why Linder's deal hasn't been up for renewal.

District 46 attorney Kevin Gordon provided his opinion on Linder's pact after some board discussion. Linder didn't attend the meeting or return a message seeking comment.

"What we have here is what appears to be a contract that was irregularly entered into," Gordon said. "It's not an illegal contract. The board can contract under the law for these types of services, so it's not void.

"But because of the irregularity with which it was reportedly entered into, it is arguably voidable. So you would be able to declare it void for lack of authority."

Elected officials agreed to vote on whether to declare Linder's contract void at the next board meeting March 7. They also are to vote on whether to ratify the deal in its current form, allowing him to continue for another year.

Four board members who voted at the February 2011 meeting -- Ray Millington, Susan Facklam, Karen Weinert and Carbone -- said Wednesday they didn't have a copy of Linder's contract. The deal also wasn't examined by a lawyer, officials said.

"No one is saying it wasn't sloppy," said Millington, now District 46's board president. "It was sloppy. But it was not meant to be deceptive. That was not an intention that anybody had."

Weinert and Facklam said they recall discussion about Linder's contract being for two years. Facklam added that Correll was speaking under difficult circumstances when she relayed the information about Linder's contract over the phone.

Linder, elected to the District 46 board in 2007, resigned in November 2010. His consulting was to include overseeing continuing projects districtwide and a 20-year facilities plan, along with reviewing and monitoring a budget.

Retired from a career of managing large corporate operations, Linder in March 2011 wrote a letter to the District 46 board stating he'd return about a third of the $75,000 he was scheduled to earn.

Linder has been getting paid before performing his duties for a given month, District 46 Chief School Business Official Anna Kasprzyk said. She said from now on he'll be paid after submitting a bill for completed work.

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